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Dancing at the Senior Prom

“Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.” Kurt Vonnegut

Where do preconceived notions come from? I recently started thinking about the plethora of ballrooms and big band dances of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I thought of generations of couples spending their Saturday nights jitterbugging, doing swing, forming line dances… My own parents met at the Tromar Ballroom in Des Moines. I wouldn’t even be here without a dancing couple who met for the first time on a cold January night in Iowa! It seemed like that was all gone.

I was so wrong.

When I saw the poster for the Senior Prom at Vancouver’s Luepke Center, I thought, “That is so nice. Once a year, our older generation can relive the past.”

Senior Prom at the Luepke Center in Vancouver

Once a year? Hah! Some of the participants graciously set me straight.

Dance lives at Luepke Center. There are monthly Sunday afternoon dances with live music. That’s just the start. Evening dances are held, too. And, my informants pointed out, there are more dances on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10:15 am. No wonder there is a permanent disco ball hung at Luepke Center. On top of that, there are afternoon dances at Firstenburg Community Center. I’m exhausted thinking about it. When do these people rest?!

Ready for action

So back to the Senior Prom. Forget the stretch limos and prom court. This event was about the dancing. “There are a lot of people who didn’t get to go to their senior prom,” Barbara told me. “This means a lot. We have a lot of fun.”

The evening began with local celebrity hosts serving dinner fixed by Clark County Skill Center youth. Corsages were distributed. Prom photos were taken.

Dinner at the prom

Guest server Kelly Punteney

Guest servers Vicki Vanneman and Larry Smith

Formal portraits

Skill Center chefs

Corsages

Dessert

And then, do not get in the way, the music started…

Let the dancing begin

Burning off dinner

Polished dancers take the floor

Dancing to the Stardusters

Pure joy

The tuxes and formal dresses may be put away until next year’s prom, but not the dancing shoes. This generation won’t be hanging them up soon.

July 15, 2011   No Comments

July: Hot Rods, Hens and Hula

Can it really be the second half of the year? Where did the first half go? Now that the weather is drier and warmer (we hope), there are LOTS of opportunities to celebrate the summer. Here are a few to consider for the FIVE weekends in July:

July 4 - There are WAY too many events happening to cover the 4th of July celebrations. Vancouver is famous for its massive 4th at the Fort. Just about every Southwest Washington community has an event. Pick one!

Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts

July 8-9 – North Bonneville Gorge Days Head out SR14 to North Bonneville for a Friday Night Sock Hop, Hot Rod Cruise and BBQ. Saturday features a Pancake Breakfast and is followed by a full day of food, arts & crafts and a free concert in the park featuring Johnny Limbo & The Lugnuts.

July 8-10 – Amboy Territorial Days Celebration – Three days of everything from pancake breakfasts to lawn mower races to a community parade to a logging show and more. Visit the Web site for a complete schedule.

July 9th – Magenta Improv Theater (MIT) presents its own version of “Whose Line is it Anyway…” This downtown Vancouver theater group really knows how to have fun with family-friendly events.

July 15-17 – Battle Ground Harvest Days - The event features a parade, lawnmower races, carnival rides, a beer garden, a root beer garden, musical entertainment, dances, bingo, talent show, chili cooking contest, ballroom fest, food. What more could you want?

Hot rods and classic cars line Main Street

July 16 – Cruisin’ the Gut – Classic cars and their passionate drivers cruise from the Dairy Queen in Uptown Village to 6th and Main in Downtown. Take a lawn chair and stake out a viewing point along the route.

July 16 – “Nights in White Salmon” Art and Wine Fusion – Downtown White Salmon will be transformed into a car-free, lively Street Fair with artists, local wines and beers, kid friendship activities, a salmon cook-off, five regional bands and lots of shops and galleries.

Trout Lake Festival of the Arts - Photo by Kira Fogerty

July 16 – 17 – Trout Lake Festival of the Arts - Fifty-five artists are jury selected to display fine art in the rustic barn, outdoors, or garden setting. In addition to the art, visitors enjoy continuous live music, an outstanding variety of foods, local brews and wine. There is no admission fee and plenty of free parking. And Mt. Adams will provide a stunning back drop!

The new Vancouver Community Library photo © 2011 Benjamin Benschneider All rights Reserved.

July 17 – Grand Opening of the Vancouver Community Library - Be still, my heart, our new Vancouver Community Library is opening! The event starts with speeches at 1 p.m., following by the ribbon cutting at about 1:40 p.m. and a fabulous library to explore, including an amazing 4,000 sf Early Learning Center, until 6 p.m. This is a WONDERFUL addition to downtown Vancouver and will be open seven days a week!

July 20-24 - SandSations Sand Sculpture Contest - Long Beach. Free lessons on Friday followed by a beach bonfire. Four hours of sculpting on Saturday.

July 22-23 – Camas Days – Games for kids, arts and crafts booths, and the famous Wine & Microbrew Street with live, musical entertainment.

July 23 – Sip and Stroll – This great walking wine tour will feature local wineries and microbrews, served in the shops of Uptown Village. Hough Foundation is the beneficiary. Fun event!

July 28-30 – Ho`ike and Hawaiian Festival - “Three days of aloha,” sponsored by Ke Kukui Foundation. A special performance of the historical drama”Ka Lei Maile Ali`i: The Queen’s Women” will be offered at 10am. Thousands attend this colorful festival for the Hapa Haole music, competitions, dancing, food and more.

Girls rule the roost on the Coop du Jour Tour


July 30 – Coop du Jour – This self-guided chicken coop tour in downtown Vancouver will give you hen envy. Chicken coops are much more creative than they used to be! This is a benefit for the Hough Foundation.

July 1, 2011   No Comments

Road Trip! A Loop Through Southwest Washington

Ready to hit the road? Thanks to guest blogger, Joe Laing of El Monte RV Rentals for providing this post:

Southwest Washington is made for touring. You’ll want to begin your tour with Vancouver – just as if you were an early American pioneer exiting the Oregon Trail. In Vancouver, you can begin your journey with a dose of history at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Baking hardtack at Fort Vancouver

To get here (from the south), take I-5, exit 1-C (Mill Plain Boulevard), drive east, and follow the signs. Fort Vancouver was once the center of the British Hudson Bay Company’s network of fur trading posts. But it also became the site of the region’s first hospital, school, mill, and shipbuilding. Today, the site encompasses the Fort Vancouver National Historic Reserve, where you can go on guided tours. Next to the Fort, Pearson Air Museum is also well-worth a visit.

Once you’re in Vancouver, you really can’t leave until you’ve taken the time to drive east along the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway, from Washougal (just east of Vancouver) to Maryhill, unless you really did just come from Oregon and spent time there along Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway, which runs parallel to it on the other side of the river. You’ll need to budget at least a day for this trip, however, as it will take you more than two hours of driving time to reach Maryhill, and another two hours to return to the Vancouver area. But what a beautiful and relaxing drive! Once you reach Maryhill, you can visit the Maryhill Museum of Art, or, if you are a wine connosieur, the famous Maryhill Winery.

The stunning terrace at Maryhill Winery

If you arrive in a summer month, you may manage to make it to one of Maryhill Winery’s summer concerts. (The 2011 season will feature Yes & Styx, Gipsy Kings, and Michael McDonald & Boz Scaggs.) Maryhill is also the site of a World War I memorial which was built as an exact replica of Stonehenge.

You may want to plan on camping in Maryhill, at Columbia Hills State Park, which is RV-friendly, so that you can take your time and explore the area, perhaps making short trips across the river, as well. Columbia Hills is well worth your time – you’ll be able to see ancient Native American petroglyphs and walk the Tamani Pesh-wa Trail. There are more than 12 miles of hiking trails here, and you can also go boating, sailboarding, rock climbing, swimming, or even play horseshoes. At night, take some time to observe the night sky – this is a beautiful area in which to see the stars.

Sailboarding on the Columbia River

On the way to or from Maryhill, depending on your schedule, stop in Stevenson at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum. This is the place to go if you have an RV full of fidgety kids. In addition to the museum’s extensive indoor historical exhibits, kids can climb into a historic diesel locomotive outside. In addition, you may want to take time to see the Bridge of the Gods, the third oldest bridge on the Columbia River.

Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center

Leaving Vancouver again (or leaving the first time, if you choose to skip the trip to Maryhill), drive north on I-5 and take exit 14 (Pioneer St./Washington 501 W) for Ridgefield, where you can visit the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Here you will find not only a beautiful flood plain habitat (watch for sandhill cranes!), but also the townsite of Cathlapotle, which was visited by Lewis and Clark in 1806.

Cathlapotle Plankhouse

You can hike through the refuge or take the four-mile car tour. [Don't miss this ZEST post by Sarah Coomber on hiking with children in the refuge.]

Getting back on I-5, head for Silver Lake (get off at exit 49, Castle Rock). If you enjoy fishing or hiking, you may want to spend some time here, and camp at Seaquest State Park. To reach the visitor center, head east on 504, but don’t limit yourself to Sequest’s own visitor center – if you continue east, you’ll reach the Mount St. Helens Forest Learning Center. If you’d like an alternate route to Mount St. Helens, you can exit I-5 at exit 21 near Woodland, but that route won’t take you to the visitor’s center. The center is inside the blast zone from the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, and includes an outdoor volcano playground and indoor virtual helicopter tour.

After May 15, when the road opens, you can proceed to the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center and Johnston Ridge Observatory.

The Road to Mount St. Helens

You can hike and climb in the Mount St. Helens area, but you will need to reserve a pass in advance, and you are required to stick to the trail. If you are old enough to remember the eruption, the trail will be amazing enough! If you aren’t old enough to remember the eruption, or would like a refresher, watch some archival footage before you get there. For a map of trails in the area, click here. If you are lucky enough to climb to the top of the crater, bring a dust mask – there is still occasional ashfall, and it isn’t good for your lungs.

From the Mount St. Helens area, you’ll want to head for the coast so you can see the sights that Lewis and Clark saw when they reached the Pacific. Head south again on I-5, but this time take highway 30 west toward the ocean. It will take you an hour or two to reach the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, near Chinook. Continuing along the coast to Long Beach, Washington, about 200 feet above the surf itself, at Cape Disappointment State Park, you can visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

View from the Interpretive Center

Take as much time as you can to enjoy this beautiful area, where you can beachcomb, hike, and relax. You can camp at Cape Disappointment overnight.

Continuing north to Ilwaco, you can visit the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, where you can see fresh and saltwater marshes and tidal estuaries. This is the place to go if you enjoy birdwatching – you can see pelicans, murrelets, bald eagles, great blue herons, and many other waterfowl and marsh birds.

Maybe you will have had enough driving by this point in your trip, but if you feel you just can’t leave Washington State without a trip to Mount Rainier, Washington’s highest peak, you can certainly make it – and it’s a glorious way to end your trip. Leaving the coast, get back onto I-5, exit at 68 (Morton/Yakima), and take US-12 E to WA-123 N. From here on east to Mount Rainier, the roads are closed seasonally, so check the dates when you plan your trip. Check the road status here. If you are taking the time to make the trip to Mount Rainier, plan on camping in the park and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all that it has to offer.

You won’t want to leave Southwest Washington, so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to poke around along the way-you’ll discover your own favorite locations and meet some of the friendliest people in the Pacific Northwest!

About the Author

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals. For other great RV camping vacation ideas see the Monty’s Musings RV Camping Blog or the new
Monty’s RV Vacation Photo / Picture Gallery
.

June 19, 2011   3 Comments

June Calendar: Life with Father, Mamas, Pirates, Garlic and the World’s Largest Egg

Welcome, summer! Check out the incredibly diverse events going on in Southwest Washington for June. From the Long Beach to Stevenson, Vancouver to Winlock, there are plenty of choices and no excuses for staying home!

June 10 and 25Waikiki Beach Concert Series – Cape Disappointment State Park. No, you don’t have to fly to Hawaii to experience this Waikiki Beach. The summer concert series kicks off with Mighty Ghosts (country pickin’, bluegrass harmonies and back-porch folk) on June 10 and Southwest Washington’s favorites Misty Mamas (home-style bluegrass, oldtime, gospel and folk) on June 25. Concerts are at 7 p.m.

Misty Mamas

June 10-25Magenta Theater Company presents Life with Father – Vancouver. Magenta Theater presents the classic comedy set in the 1800s. Magenta’s intimate, and recently reconfigured, theater in downtown Vancouver is a very fun place to experience plays up close and personal!

Life with Father

June 11Divine Consign Home and Garden Tour – Vancouver. Tour homes and gardens in historic downtown Vancouver. Proceeds will benefit at-risk youth. Tickets and tour maps may be picked up at 1101 Officers Row in front of the Grant House on the day of the tour beginning at 11 am. $20 in advance. $25 at the door.

June 11Fleur de Lis Festival - Westport Winery, Westport. Enjoy this well-programmed festival including Art in the Vines, local blue cheese samplings, book signings, a belly dance troupe, music, French Onion Soup, grapevines for sale and 5000 blooming iris. And, of course, don’t forget the wonderful wines of Westport Winery, too.

Tasting wine at the Westport Winery

June 11The David Lanz Liverpool Trio – The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson. The Skamania Performing Arts Foundation presents pianist David Lanz, flutist Gary Stroutsos, and cellist Walter Gray. The trio most recently came together to perform David’s arrangements from the recording Liverpool…Re-Imagining the Beatles.

David Lanz Liverpool Trio

June 18Fort Vancouver Brigade Encampment, Vancouver. See costumed re-enactors demonstrating the annual return of the fur trappers to Fort Vancouver. Hands-on activities in the Fort Vancouver Village just west of the Fort’s stockade, on the trail to the Land Bridge.

Re-enactors at the Fort Vancouver Village in 2010

June 18-1930th Annual NW Garlic Festival – Ocean Park. More than 70 specialty food and craft vendors will offer prepare and use garlic in every imaginable way. As they say, “Just follow your nose” to the festival.

June 19 - Vancouver USA Marathon – Vancouver. It may be too late to start training, or is it?! The event includes a half marathon and welcomes walkers. Vancouver’s first marathon will should be a good one. Produced by Energy Events.

June 24-26Rusty Scupper Pirate Daze Festival – Westport. You are going to have to enter the festival Web site to learn about ALL the pirate events. Prepare to read pirate lingo or walk the plank!

Pirates on parade

June 24Gorge Blues and Brews Festival Friday Night Waterfront Jam – Skamania County Fairgrounds, Stevenson. The Gorge Blues and Brews Festival kicks off with a Friday night jam. The party starts at 6 pm and the show, featuring local musical talent, begins at 7 pm. Music will include the soulful vocals and driving rhythms of Jackbone Dixie as well as traditional sax blues from The Richard Wilkins Blues Band. Free!

June 25Gorge Blues and Brews Festival - Skamania County Fairgrounds, Stevenson. Three blues bands, 16 regional micro-breweries, 8 wineries and food vendors. Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King will be the headliners. Admission is $15 per person and includes your choice of a commemorative beer mug or wine glass. Children 12 and under are free.

Gorge Blues and Brews Festival

June 25-26Recycled Arts Festival – Vancouver. One of the most creative events of the year happens in Esther Short Park on the last weekend of June. For a preview, take a look at last year’s Festival, take a look at this ZEST blog post.

Glass garden sculptures at the 2010 Festival

June 24-2675th Annual Egg Day Festival - Winlock. The parade starts at 11 a.m. June 25 with the theme “Egg Days and Diamonds Forever.” The festival will include an Egg Day Run and royalty. Check out this charming video about the World Largest Egg and Winlock.

World's Largest Egg in Winlock

May 29, 2011   No Comments

May Meanderings: Bike rides, trains, tall ships, wine tours and more…

Spring events are in full force now in Southwest Washington. Here are a few ideas to get you out the door:

May 3 – The 39 Steps – Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Longview. This 2008 Tony award-winning play “The 39 Steps” is a madcap romp through one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest films. Adapted for the stage, it became one of Broadway’s longest-running comedy thrillers. With a cast of 4, this show has more than 150 characters to keep you on the edge of your seat.

May 7 – The 28th Annual Ride Across Clark County (RACC) sponsored by the Vancouver Bicycle Club WARNING! This event may be sold out. Check the Web site for availability of this scenic and popular day-long ride. Four loops to choose from – 18, 34, 65 and 100 miles

May 7 – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. National Train Day, Historic Train Depot, 210 Railroad Ave, Centralia, WA National Train Day commemorates the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s inception. Special displays and events will be in the Historic Railroad Depot in downtown Centralia.

May 14 – 8 p.m. Al Stewart Concert at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson. Remember the Scottish singer-songwriter’s 1976 hit Year of the Cat? Skamania Performing Arts Foundation, 541-400-9792

May 14 and 15 – Vancouver Symphony Orchestra conducted by Salvador Brotons. Concert times are 3 pm on Saturday and 7 pm on Sunday. Last regular concert of the season. The program will feature Concerto for Horn by Brotons. Roman Festivals by Respighi and Audience Choice (voting now closed).

May 14, 12-4 pm – Cathlapotle Plankhouse, Carty Unit of the Ridgefield NWR, 28908 NW Main Ave., Ridgefield. Artist Judy Bridges, Cowlitz basket weaver, will demonstrate basket weaving techniques. Visitors will have the opportunity to view examples of her basketry and ask her questions about her craft.

May 15, 12-4 pm – Cathlapotle Plankhouse Carty Unit of the Ridgefield NWR, 28908 NW Main Ave, Ridgefield. Artists Greg Robinson, member of the Chinook Indian Nation, and Greg Archuleta, member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, will be in the Plankhouse doing carving and Chinookan lifeways demonstrations. Visitors will be able to see some of their beautiful artwork as well as talk to them about Chinookan art and culture.

Hawaiian Chieftain (left) and Lady Washington cruising together in Grays Harbor near Westport. Photo by Ron Arel, Coastal Images.

May 18-19 – Nautical Renaissance The Port of Ilwaco welcomes back Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Tall Ships, The Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain. Self-guided tours are hosted by the crew wearing period costumes. ($3 requested donation). Adventure and Battle Sails are also available. Visit the Web site for prices and other details. From Ilwaco on May 19th guests can book passage to Astoria where the ships will offer tours until May 22, coinciding with Astoria’s opening celebration of its 200th birthday. Contact the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority in Aberdeen (360) 532-8611 or (800) 200-5239 for details and schedules. Go to www.ladywashington.org to track the ships’ locations and purchase discounted price tickets. (Note: There will also be a sail in Ilwaco on May 3rd.)

May 21-22 – 31st Annual Herb and Garden Festival at Pomeroy Living History Farm Thousands of fresh herb and garden plants, many organic selections plus entertainment, farm café, vendors and the herb garden. Admission is free.

May 28-30 – Memorial Day Weekend Clark County Spring Wine Release Visit 11 Clark County wineries in one weekend! See the Web site for details and maps.

May 28-30 – Memorial Day Open House Weekend at Columbia Gorge Wineries Visit more than 30 wineries and tasting rooms on both sides of the river. Details on the event Web site.

Wow, what a May! This is just a small fraction of what is scheduled. See you out there in Southwest Washington!

April 27, 2011   No Comments

March Events: Spring is Coming!

It’s March and, though it’s not quite here yet, spring is in the air. The roses are pruned, our daffodils are starting to open and it’s time to plant the peas. If you are itching to get out and about, here are some options around our region:

March 4-26 – The Inner Light Photographic Society celebrates 25 years of image making at Angst Gallery, 1015 Main Street, Vancouver. Opening night will be at the First Friday Artwalk – Friday, March 4, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Don’t miss all the other galleries, too. Downtown Vancouver is quite lively on First Friday nights!

March 13- Marble Mountain to Chocolate Falls Snow Shoe Adventure – Check out Mount St. Helens Institute for details. Snowshoeing is the best! All the fun of cross-country skiing without the bruised bodies and egos. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.

March 12-19 Japanese Culture Week in Longview at various locations with events that include anime, Taiko drumming, origami and much more. The week culminates with an exciting performance on March 19 by Taiko (re)Generation at the Columbia Theatre.


March 18-20 – Don’t miss the 16th annual Peninsula Quilt Guild’s show in Ilwaco. More than 100 quilts will be on display. Quilts will be at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco.

March 18 – St. Patty’s for the Parks featuring Patrick Lamb at Shorty’s Garden & Home, Mill Plain Store in Vancouver. This is a benefit for the Parks Foundation of Clark County. Over 21 only. Food by Beaches.

March 19 – St. Patty’s for the Kids – same location as March 18 but with a family focus and free!

March 19 – Clark College at Columbia Tech Center Open House and Green Resource Fair, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 18700 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver. Includes cooking demonstrations, gardening tips, local wineries and a showing of one of the best food movies ever, The Big Night. You will find the flyer here: Spring 2011 Open House Cooking School

March 27 – Third Annual Fort Vancouver Run – Shake off your sluggish winter body with a 6K, 10K or 15 K run plus kids’ events. Starts at Fred Meyer Grand Central Shopping Center.

As always, lots happening in Southwest Washington! See you out there!

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February 28, 2011   No Comments